Chairwoman Maloney Issues Statement After Trump Hotel Sale Is Completed Despite Lack of Complete Transparency
Washington, D.C. (May 11, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, released the following statement after the Trump Organization and CGI Merchant Group, a Miami-based investment firm, finalized the sale of the Trump Hotel’s lease for Old Post Office Building:
“Today’s sale is the latest in a long line of questionable deals, conflicts of interest, and constitutional violations involving former President Trump and his Washington, D.C. hotel. The former president will personally receive tens of millions of dollars in profits from selling his lease at a significant premium over market rates, yet the American public still does not know whose money is paying for this deal. It is unfortunate that the purchaser, CGI Merchant Group, chose to proceed with the purchase before answering the Committee’s questions, but we remain committed to getting answers and lifting the veil of secrecy on this transaction.”
At the beginning of the 116th Congress, the Oversight Committee launched several investigations of former President Trump’s conflicts of interest, inadequate financial disclosures, and violations of the Emoluments Clauses in order to determine the adequacy of existing laws and perform related executive branch oversight.
On February 27, 2019, the former President’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before the Oversight Committee. He alleged that President Trump’s financial statements falsely represented the President’s assets and liabilities and that President Trump “inflated his total assets when it served his purposes” or, at other times, “deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”
On March 20, 2019, Chairman Elijah Cummings sent a letter to Mazars seeking key financial documents relating to these and other allegations, and on April 15, 2019, the Oversight Committee issued a subpoena to Mazars seeking four targeted categories of documents.
On April 11, 2019, Chairman Cummings and Chairman Connolly sent a letter to GSA urging the agency to produce documents related to the Trump Hotel’s lease, which it had been withholding since the beginning of the Trump Administration. This letter was sent after the GSA Office of the Inspector General issued a report raising grave questions about the management of the lease and concluding that GSA had decided to ignore the constitutional emoluments issues raised by President Trump’s refusal to divest his interest in the Trump Hotel upon becoming President.
On May 20, 2019, after President Trump and his businesses filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent Mazars from complying with the Committee’s lawful subpoena, the D.C. District Court issued a ruling vindicating the authority of the Oversight Committee to investigate issues concerning the President and his companies. This ruling was upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and on July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP. The Supreme Court’s opinion reaffirmed the bedrock principle in our democracy that no one—not even the President—is above the law and announced a new standard for evaluating congressional subpoenas for the President’s personal information. On August 11, 2021, on remand from the Supreme Court, the D.C. District Court again reaffirmed that the Committee was entitled to receive former President Trump’s financial information.
On October 8, 2021, the Committee sent a letter to GSA detailing new concerns about former President Trump’s lease for the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. after documents released by the Committee showed his failure to disclose significant losses and debts in public filings and lease documents, and his conflicts of interest as President.
On February 17, 2022, Chairwoman Maloney and Chairman Connolly sent a to GSA urging the agency to consider terminating the Old Post Office Building lease held by President Trump and the Trump Organization after Mazars USA LLP—the longtime auditor for the Trump Hotel—announced that it is severing ties with the Trump Organization and admitted that ten years’ worth of financial statements prepared for former President Trump are unreliable. These revelations provided further corroboration of the Committee’s finding that the financial information former President Trump provided to GSA in order to secure the Old Post Office Building lease appeared incomplete and misleading and contained possible material misrepresentations.
On May 6, 2022, Chairs Maloney and Connolly sent a letter to CGI Merchant Group requesting information related to the planned sale of the Trump Hotel. Although the Trump Organization reported losing tens of millions of dollars since the hotel opened in 2016, the sale price represents a significant premium over market rates, according to some experts, and would reportedly stand as the most expensive hotel transaction ever in Washington, D.C., on a per-room basis. CGI Merchant Group has not yet disclosed to GSA the identities of all investors funding this acquisition, reportedly citing privacy concerns and confidentiality requirements. The deal will reportedly yield the Trump Organization a profit of at least $100 million, of which approximately three quarters would flow to former President Trump.